Back-to-school season is practically here. That means parents all over will be searching around for the best back-to-school deals and discounts. If you can relate, I don’t blame you.
Back-to-school shopping can be expensive and the average parents spends $500 – $1,000 per child. What if you could drastically cut these expenses by getting your school supplies for free.
It’s definitely possible with a little creativity and a few of these resources and tips. Often times, we resort to spending a ton of money on certain expenses because we don’t believe there’s another option.
When it comes to getting school supplies, you have plenty of options that won’t cost you anything. Here are my 7 favorite ways to get free school supplies.
1. Check to See What You Already Own
I always recommend people do a quick inventory check before running out to grab new school supplies. We tend to reuse backpacks and lunch boxes each year, but there’s also usually a ton of supplies lying around the house too from previous years.
My son always brings home what he didn’t use in class on the last day of school and I store it away somewhere for the summer.
Start checking around your home too. You’d be surprised at how many pencils, pens, unused notebooks, reusable folders, and packs of writing paper you might find just sitting on the closet shelf.
Be sure to make a list of what you already have before you start searching for new school supplies.
2. The Salvation Army
You may have shopped in Salvation Army stores before. But, what you may not have known is that the Salvation Army also donates school supplies to families in need.
For example, the Salvation Army in the Phoenix area does a back-to-school supplies drive each year collecting common items kids need then redistributing it throughout the community.
Check with your local Salvation Army to see if they provide a similar service.
3. Boys and Girls Club of America
The Boys and Girls Club of America is a national organization of local chapters which provide after-school programs for young people. They do a lot of fun events where they can give free school supplies to students.
This year, they are partnering with Toyota for their Back-2-School Partners event. They will send 3 2018 Toyota minivans across the country collecting school supplies for local Boys and Girls Clubs.
The vans will be donated to 3 deserving clubs by the end of the summer along with all the supplies.Back to school can be expensive, but these ideas can help you get supplies for free! Click To Tweet
4. Local Churches and Organizations
If you don’t have a Salvation Army or Boys and Girls Club in your area, you can always reach out to local churches and organizations to see if they will be conducting any back-to-school giveaways.
Community organizations and churches are always collecting back-to-school supplies to give back to the community. Some of them even host community events where families can come hang out, eat, and pick up some school supplies and backpacks.
Check to see if your area has any free back-to-school events.
5. Host a School Supplies Swap
If your kids need more specific supplies, you may be able to organize a school supplies swap with other kids in the area or from the same school.
Ask all your neighbors, friends in the area, and members at church to meet up one day with their kids and bring all the leftover school supplies that they no longer need.
Whether you need a special calculator, protractor, or color-coded binders, it may help to join together with other families and swap out school supplies.
This works great when kids from all different age groups participate. As an example, an older kid going into middle school may have items they no longer need that a 5th or 6th grader can use.
Going out into the community is a great way to connect with others and share resources.
You’ll want to schedule your swap before people start doing their back-to-school shopping and getting reorganized. At the end of each school year, I go through my son’s backpack for papers on the final day. But, I never look through his supplies and toss things out until we start getting ready to go back to school in August.
Anything we don’t need for the school year is available to swap with someone else for the things we do actually need.
6. Sales and Coupons
This may not be a 100% free option but if you do have to run out and shop for a few items, you could take advantage of coupons, deals, and mail-in rebate options.
BOGO deals can help you save a lot of money and plenty of stores have their own unique deals and discounts. Last year Office Depot had a deal where you could buy one item and get other school supplies for just a penny each.
Keep an eye on sales papers and online coupons during this time. You may come across a retailer with a school supply item that is free after a mail-in rebate. Some even offer instead rebates that you can take advantage of at the counter.
7. Use Cash Back
If you have a cash back credit card or use a program like Ebates, this can be one of the best ways to earn cash back to cover your school supply costs without spending any money from your own pocket.
I have a cash back card that I use to pay for groceries and gas each month. After each statement, cash back is added to my account. I usually deposit it into my checking account once I accumulate enough to transfer.
If you shop online regularly, sign up for Ebates, which is a free site that partners with multiple popular retailers to pay you cash back for your purchases. Ebates pays out quarterly and it’s one of the easiest ways to effortless earn cash back.
Do you do use any of these ideas to get free or discounted school supplies for your kids?